Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by Laura Teso
Este is a little town 40 minutes from Padova by car or train. Do you remember my post about Monselice? Three war companions Ossicella, Antenor and Ateste escaped after the Trojan conquest and reached the Veneto. Each of them founded a city (respectively Monselice, Padova and Este). By the way, Este and Monselice are so close that you can combine a visit to both. For ages it has been and still is a centre of ceramics productions. The name derives from Athesis, the ancient name of the Adige river that once crossed the town (until 589 a. D. when a flood changed the river flow).
The beautiful castle (unfortunately not visitable) was first built by the Este dynasty (later they moved to Ferrara) around 1056. Destroyed in 1317 by Cangrande della Scala (of Verona), it was rebuilt in 1339 by Ubertino da Carrara, lord of Padova. As many towns in the ares it passed first under the Venetian rule, then French (Napoleone), Hapsburg and then it was annexed (with the Veneto) to the Reign of Italy in 1866. Many famous poets visited Este during 1700s and 1800s: Byron, Shelley and Foscolo for example.
Our visit started after having parked along via Olmo (the convenient parking lot just outside the Castle was full). We reached for the town park, beautifully located inside the Castle’s walls. And then we entered from the gate in via Negri, just adjacent to Villa Mocenigo, hosting the National Archaeological Museum (will visit another day). We walked around the park, reaching the Tower (not visitable) base. From there the view was pretty pleasant, even though the weather was not behaving! You can see the main street with the Civic Tower (XVII).
But, if you look at the next photos, you’ll verify that Mr. Weather decided to cooperate at some point. Later we ambled in Piazza Maggiore (beautiful XVII century Town Hall with a Café located at the ground floor) and via Matteotti taking some photos and looking here and there the palaces and the local market. We stopped for lunch at the restaurant Le Strie.
Then we continued our stroll. We visited the Saint Thecla Cathedral, whose masterpiece, the altarpiece by Tiepolo Saint Thecla Liberating The City Of Este From The Plague, was under restoration. But we could admire the second “showpiece”, the 1700s Carrara marble sculptural group depicting The Triumph of the Eucharist. The best part is definitely the veiled Faith.
A thing that hit me while in Este was the neglect state of some facades and buildings, although beautiful. One for all, the abandoned villa just on the side of the Cathedral (going out of the Duomo, on the right corner). At this point, proceed on the left and follow the street. You’ll arrive at the Renaissance Falconetto Arch (1525), entrance of the (again!) abandoned Villa Benvenuti.
We left the Arch on the left and continued along via Cappuccini until we reach a little widening. On the left you can see the bizarre stable of Villa Kunkler. The Kunkler family was Swiss, and this explains the “mountains style” (I find it adorable, by the way). The Villa was rented between 1817 and 1818 by Lord Byron and Shelley. Here Shelley wrote, among other things, a beautiful poem, waiting for his wife to join him, probably on the date of her birthday (30 August). The Castle echo described by Shelley was due to the proximity of the Castle walls, located just in front of the villa. If you climb the hill (steep and uneven!) you can peek the white villa among the trees.
O Mary dear, that you were here
With your brown eyes bright and clear.
And your sweet voice, like a bird
Singing love to its lone mate
In the ivy bower disconsolate;
Voice the sweetest ever heard!
And your brow more…
Than the … sky
Of this azure Italy.
Mary dear, come to me soon,
I am not well whilst thou art far;
As sunset to the sphered moon,
As twilight to the western star,
Thou, beloved, art to me.
O Mary dear, that you were here;
The Castle echo whispers ‘Here!’
Isn’t it super romantic? I wish someone would write verses like this for me!
PS: If you want to visit a beautiful ceramics shop read my post about Este Ceramiche e Porcellane.